February 2, 2015
"Be ye angry, and sin not, let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Ephesians 4:26
On Superbowl Sunday, I waited until the game came on television and went to the grocery store. I decided this was the perfect time to go because most of the store traffic would be at home or somewhere else fully engaged in the game.
Although it was still a little busy, the store traffic was no where near the busyness of earlier that day. Originally, I had no intention of going grocery shopping. I'd only planned to be at the store for 15-20 and pick up a few items for dinner. I ended up grocery shopping, and was in the store for about 90 minutes.
By the time I finished loading up my car to head home, I was more than ready to see my boys! I started my car, turned and looked both ways, looked out my rear view mirror as well as my side mirrors, then I turned to check behind me once more. Confident that no one was coming, I slowly began making my way out of my parking spot. That's when it happened. I heard a very loud blare of a horn, followed by the flashing speed of a white car.
The horn scared me, and the speeding car gave me another jolt. Glad I didn't hit you, I thought. I tried to pray and ask God to keep other drivers around them safe from their lack of patience, when I began experiencing this burning sensation in my chest. I was getting angry. All kinds of thoughts began racing through my head. Who does this? What gives them the right to be so rude? Seeing that they were still in the parking lot, still driving fast, I decided to follow them. So I sped off after then, following in hopes of seeing a glimpse of this rude and impatient person. Remembering all the "friendly" faces I passed in the store, I wondered which one of them was behind the tented windows.
Upon reaching the street, I noticed a father on his bike with a toddler, as well as a teenager riding on another bike in front of him. The mysterious impatient person was at the stop sign in front of me, and I was behind them waiting. This driver, didn't seem to have the desire, or patience to wait for the teen girl who began crossing in front of them on her bike. They began driving when she reached the middle of the front of their car, and almost hit her had she not noticed and sped up to get out of the way.
This made me even more heated. Who does this person think they are? I wondered. How dare they do such a thing! They almost hit that girl, and the almost side swiped the Dad and toddler on his bike while attempting to speed past the girl.
At this point, I was seeing red. I was so upset, and so determined to follow this person. My goal was to catch up to them and either throw something at their passenger window, or get out of my car, bang on their window and spit some choice words all over them.
Still driving fast, the caught the first stop light, put their left blinker on, and turned on a green arrow. For a moment, I considered following them. It was well out of my way home, but someone needed to teach them a lesson.
It was in that moment I remembered myself. This is ridiculous, Patricia. It is a waste of time. Leave them to God, pray they don't hurt anyone, and let this go. None of it will do any good. While driving home, ruminating on what just happened, and the things I would have said to them had I been given the chance, I had to correct my steering a few times. My mind was so focused on my anger, and the desire to tell these people off, that I almost got into a wreck a few times.
I used to think that if I professed to be a follower of Christ, I could never be angry. I'd have to walk around happy all the time. If I didn't something was wrong with me. And If I was not happy about something, the best thing to do was keep quiet about it, and grin and bear it. The thing is, God gave us all our emotions. Every single one of them, including anger. In Ephesians 4:26, we are told to be angry, but sin not. The fact that we get angry does not bother God. It is what we do when we experience this emotion that God does not want. I was on my way home, ready to see my boys and spend some quality time with them. But I so angered by this person, I was almost willing to go out of my way to satisfy this growing itch of anger building inside of me.
Moreover, when I came to my senses on that, and decided to stay my original course and head home, I was still so focused on my anger for this person that I almost ended up hurting myself and possibly someone else. Do you see how powerful anger can be when we use wrong motives behind them? In Matthew 21:13, Jesus got angry. He flipped tables and raised His voice at the money changers. What was His motive behind it? It was not to hurt them. It was to clean out the temple in order for it to be used for it's original intent: a house of prayer. He wanted to make sure the people coming were not being robbed of their money. His motive was filled with love and compassion for the individual experiencing injustice. He wanted to straighten out those thieving, and save those being robbed.
God revealed to me just how blinded I became by my anger in that moment. Not only does He want the very best for me, He has an incredible plan for my life. When I take my eyes off of Him, and allow foolishness to rob me of my joy, I also lose sight of His plan, which has the ability to knock me off that path. When I fix my eyes on Jesus, and remember that He alone is the author and the perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I may still get angry at foolishness, but my focus is fixed. With fixed focus, I remain balanced, and am less likely to fall into sin.